Direct and Indirect European Funds
Small and medium-sized companies can count on direct and indirect European funds to grow and aim for innovation. The financial programming of the EU lasts 7 years.
The 2021-2027 program focuses on innovation, digitalisation, renewable energy, job opportunities, as well as touching on other issues such as migration and border management, defense and security.
European funds are a fundamental resource to support and facilitate the development of companies (and territories) of EU countries: let’s see and how it is possible to participate in the calls and measures provided for SMEs.
The managed funds are managed directly by the European Commission or by the various national agencies, such as the ANPAL.
Direct funds are divided in turn into grants , community programs and tools intended for companies (which participate through the call for proposals), and in tenders for companies that, through calls for tenders, want to take advantage of funding for the purchase of goods and services .
To be eligible for this funding, it is essential to create a transnational partnership: in other words, companies must submit projects that involve companies or entities from several EU countries.
Direct funds do not cover 100% of the projects: therefore, it is necessary to have capital to invest in the project.
The indirect funds have a different nature. Provided by the European Commission, they are then managed by the states or regions of the member countries. The aim of direct funds is to reduce the economic disparities between EU countries and to allow the economic and social growth of businesses and citizens.
Indirect funds are divided into PON (National Operational Programs) and POR (Regional Operational Programs). Public bodies publish the tenders, which often aim to meet the specific growth needs of the various reference territories.
Horizon Europe 2021-2027: the European Framework Program for Research and Innovation
Horizon Europe collects the legacy of the previous Horizon 2020 program with the aim of supporting activities dealing with research and innovation. The financial endowment envisaged by the European Union is 95.5 billion euros.
The Horizon Europe program is based on three pillars: Scientific excellence, Global challenges and European industrial competitiveness, Europe of innovation.
The first pillar, Scientific excellence, aims to support the dissemination of high quality methodologies, skills and knowledge and cooperation between researchers from different countries.
The pillar is concretized through the European Research Council, dedicated to frontier research, the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, which promotes the mobility and training of European researchers, and the Research Infrastructures, which wants to strengthen collaboration between infrastructures to extend limits of knowledge .
The second pillar, relating to European industrial competitiveness, provides for joint actions between member states to address global economic challenges, towards sustainable and as inclusive growth as possible.
There are six clusters in which new technologies and innovative solutions are to be introduced: Health, Creativity and Inclusive Society, Civil Safety for Society, Digital, Industry and Space, Climate, Energy and Mobility, Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment.
The third pillar, Europe of Innovation, aims to promote new ideas and ethical, responsible and sustainable innovation to face the challenges of the future with more tools and ensure prosperity for European citizens.
Also in this case we find three different bodies to facilitate the implementation of the program: the EIC, the European Innovation Council, has the objective of supporting pioneering ideas with market potential.
European innovation ecosystem aims to foster the creation of an environment favorable to innovation, while the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) wants to guarantee, through the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), the research union, education and business to meet the innovation objectives .
The program is divided into missions, specific actions with a focus on achieving objectives thanks to the strengthening of international cooperation, a stronger relationship between R&I and the increase in open science policies. European partnerships have also been strengthened, which will be of three types: co-programmed, co-financed and institutionalized.
Single Market Program 2021-2027: resources for SMEs
In the 2021-2027 budget, the EU introduced a program designed, among others, for small and medium-sized enterprises. The Single Market Program replaces 6 previous community programs, including the COSME program, and will have a budget of 4.2 billion euros (at current prices).
Among the objectives of the Single Market Program, we find the growth of the competitiveness of SMEs , even at a cross-border level. In concrete terms, the program consists of various forms of support for businesses, including grants, loan guarantees from the InvestEU fund, facilitating market access, reducing administrative burdens, promoting innovation and, above all, ensuring an environment that promotes and helps the entrepreneurial culture .
The instruments provided by the Single Market Program are varied. The Enterprise Europe Network aims to offer specific advice to SMEs , with a particular focus on international growth. The loans will take place through debt and equity, drawing, as mentioned, from the specific SME section of the InvestEU fund.
InvestEU: The Business Support Program
InvestEU is a European Union program for business support that draws on both the budget and the Recovery Fund, an instrument created by the EU to support the recovery after the severe crisis caused by the pandemic.
It is a single financial fund that on the one hand represents a resource for investments in competitiveness, sustainable growth, resilience and growth, and on the other a guarantee fund for investments with a high risk profile of which private lenders are not able to take charge.
InvestEu offers a single consulting hub for SMEs and combines diversified financial instruments for investments in sustainable infrastructure, research, innovation, digitization, skills. SMEs will have easier access to finance. Of the 9.4 billion euros of resources, 6.9 are destined for small and medium-sized enterprises.